What is a Wetlands?

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 5, 2022, 5:15

Wetlands are naturally occurring areas where water plays a significant role in balancing the entire environment and all flora and fauna around that place. They naturally occur in almost all continents; the exception is Antarctica. The water found here is either freshwater, saltwater, or brackish.

Wetlands - Overview

Wetlands are formed when the water table is likely to touch the surface of the ground, and they tend to make the soil a bit mushy and wet. They are also formed when the land gets flooded with water coming from any source.

Wetlands are also places that act as a transition between the terrestrial and the aquatic ecosystems. They are filled with shallow water, and as in this case, the water touches the surface level.

Types of Wetlands

Different types of Wetlands exist on Earth based on the source of the water or the dominant plants found here:

Coastal Wetlands: Coastal Wetlands include shorelines, mangroves, coral reefs and beaches which are located between land and the open sea, Also These don't get impacted by rivers.

Bogs: Bogs are wet peatlands found in historic lake basins or landscape depressions. Rainfall provides almost all of the water in bogs.

Estuaries: The area where rivers join the sea and the water transforms from fresh to salty, and it can be home to a diverse range of wildlife.

Marshes: These are characterised by herbaceous plants adapted to moist soil conditions and are seasonally saturated, flooded, or ponded by water. Tidal marshes and non-tidal marshes are the two types of marshes.

Swamps: These are dominated by plants and bushes and are primarily nourished by surface water supplies. Swamps can be found in floodplains that are freshwater.

☛ Also Read: Weekly Current Affairs

Wetlands - Current Status

  • India has the largest network of Ramsar sites in South Asia, with 49 sites totalling 10,93,636 hectares as of February 2022
  • Wetlands occupy roughly 4.6 per cent of India's total area, encompassing 15.26 million hectares
  • The convention's rigorous requirements protect Wetlands designated as Ramsar areas
  • There are around 2400 Ramsar sites worldwide, encompassing 2.5 million square kilometres
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Wetlands Importance

  • Microbes, plants, and wildlife in Wetlands play a role in world water, nitrogen, and sulphur cycles; instead of releasing carbon dioxide into the sky, Wetlands retain it in their plant communities and soil
  • Wetlands are essential for human and environmental survival; more than one billion people rely on them for a living, and Wetlands are home to 40% of their biodiversity
  • These are considered to be rich ecosystems which have an abundance of fish
  • They also have relevance in terms of tourism and different types of transportation

Wetlands are essential ecosystems that serve multiple purposes. It would help if you had enough Wetlands to strike a balance in nature.

With increasing urbanisation and the destruction of natural habitats, Wetlands are decreasing, and it raises an alarming concern as it is an excellent threat to ecology and the environment.

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FAQs on Wetlands

Q.1. What kind of industries do Wetlands support?

Wetlands support fish nurseries, which is crucial for the entire fishing industry.

Q.2. What are the primary threats to the Wetlands in India?

The Wetlands in India are prone to different types of threats, of which urbanisation and pollution are the primary ones.

Q.3. Which convention promotes the wise use of Wetlands?

The Ramsar Convention promotes the wise use of Wetlands.

Q.4. India has how many Wetlands of international importance?

India has about 49 Wetlands that are of international importance.

Q.5. What is per cent of India's land covered with Wetlands?

Wetlands cover about 4.6% of India's land.